I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR -- Hannah Bateman makes herself a chef's salad for lunch nearly every day in the Willmar Senior High cafeteria. Often, the salad includes bright, fresh greens from the school district's greenhouse on the MinnWest Technology Campus. "It's pretty nice," Hannah said as she dug into her salad on Monday. Hannah, a 16-year-old junior, said she can tell on sight if the greenhouse produce is being used on the cafeteria's salad bar. "It looks a lot fresher ... it's greener," she said.
WILLMAR -- Enrollment is holding steady for the Willmar School District after more than a decade of steady decline. Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington told the Willmar School Board Monday the computer models the district uses had predicted steady enrollment, and that seems to be happening, with slight fluctuations up and down. Enrollment at the end of January was 4,045 students, eight students more than in December and one more student than in January 2011. For more than a decade, enrollment has declined nearly every year.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board took action Monday to discontinue the equivalent of 50 non-tenured faculty positions, but many of the teachers affected are likely to be rehired next fall. The action is an annual part of the district's budget planning process. More than 50 full-time or part-time non-tenured faculty members will receive a letter from the board saying that the action was taken because of the financial condition of the district. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard and Human Resources Director Liz Fischer said the district takes this action because the district's needs for the ne
WILLMAR -- It was the passion and commitment of the teachers that helped Mike and Sheila Tolbert decide to become involved in the effort to raise money for iPads for Willmar Senior High. The Tolberts will be heading the iCardinals Campaign to raise $400,000 from the community to put Apple iPad tablet computers into the hands of each junior and senior at the high school this fall. The effort would provide iPads for about 600 students. The iCardinals Campaign plans to raise $400,000 from the community to help pay for the iPads, cases, software and other needs.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The agenda includes a resolution to lay off all the non-tenured teachers in the district. The layoffs are done each spring.
Paper airplanes glided across the sixth-grade science classroom, and the room was busy with chatter and activity as kids judged flight patterns and commented on the various designs. It looked like a movie scene of teacher-leaves-the-room chaos.
WILLMAR -- A new Farm Bill with an overhauled dairy program could be in place by early summer, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Friday. However, some issues could disrupt that timeline, including an impending election and disagreements over funding for food stamp programs. During a visit to Tribune offices Friday afternoon, Peterson said he was optimistic about getting a new Farm Bill in place later this year. He has been working on a revamped dairy program that would get rid of price supports and the Milk Income Loss Contract program.
WILLMAR -- Attending a high school prom can be an expensive project. A dress, shoes and accessories add up fast. Hair and nails add another layer of expenses. For some girls and their families, the cost of it all can be completely out of reach. That's where The Bella Project comes in. The project is seeking donated prom dresses and accessories that can be loaned to girls attending Willmar's May 4 prom. The dresses will be loaned to girls for a $10 dry-cleaning fee or in exchange for another dress. The Bella Project is the brain child of a group of staff members at Willmar Senior High.
WILLMAR -- Congress has until May 15 to work out a plan to keep regional mail processing centers and rural post offices open. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said Thursday afternoon that he and other senators are working to prevent the negative impact on families and businesses that could result from the closings. The idea of closing processing centers and post offices came up last fall, the fallout of financial problems at the U.S. Postal Service.
WILLMAR -- Census data indicates that the Willmar School District has a growing population that is well-educated and growing older. During the Willmar School Board's workshop meeting Monday, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard went over a demographic report built on census data and other government databases. The board also discussed elementary shuttle bus service, a high school principal search and improved job descriptions in the district.